Malaysia: Malaysiakini faces contempt of court charge

Malaysiakini, an independent media outlet, and its editor-in-chief Steven Gan are facing contempt proceedings after the Federal Court's decision to allow an application filed by Malaysia's Attorney-General.The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the decision of the Federal Court and urges authorities to drop the case.

Malaysiakini logo. Credit: Malaysiakini

Judge Rohana Yusof who led the three member Federal Court panel on June 17 ruled that Attorney-General Idrus Harun had managed to establish prima facie case for the application. The case is being investigated under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and the Penal Code. This is the first time Malaysiakini has been cited for contempt of court after 20 years of operations.

The contempt charge is related to five readers’ comments in an article titled "CJ orders all courts to be fully operational from July 1." Idrus alleged that those comments "clearly meant that the judiciary committed wrongdoings, is involved in corruption, does not uphold justice and compromised its integrity." Malaysiakini was also accused of facilitating publication of these comments which Idrus argued were "unwarranted" and seen as "demeaning attacks" on the judiciary.

On June 16, officers from the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters recorded Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan's statement for this case. Gan said Malaysiakini would cooperate with the police and would consult its lawyers regarding the contempt proceedings. The court has set June 25 for case management and the next hearing date will be on July 2.

The IFJ said:“IFJ condemns the filing of application by the Attorney General to bring the case to the court and the decision of the Federal Court. IFJ urges authorities to drop the case and respect press freedom and freedom of speech".

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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